Recruitment & Retention

Why this ad agency adopted a 4-day workweek

“All the work is still getting done, the only difference is like we’re clocking off on Fridays,” Authentic founder and CEO Mike Nellis tells HR Brew.
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Francis Scialabba

less than 3 min read

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Imagine having a three-day weekend, every weekend. For the around 50 employees at Chicago-based ad agency Authentic, it’s no fantasy.

The company adopted a four-day workweek in December, following about a five-month pilot program that concluded in May. It started the program to help improve retention, which, as of 2019, was 54.5%, according to founder and CEO Mike Nellis.

“We wanted to try to do something a little bit different [when] we launched our firm [in 2018], and the things that were different six years ago were providing better pay and finding better benefits and creating a safe work environment,” Nellis told HR Brew. “But we wanted to continue to evolve and ideate on how to build a better workspace and how to be leaders in the space. And we decided to push [a] four-day workweek.”

Four-day workweeks have been shown to have a positive impact on both retention and recruitment: 63% of candidates surveyed by Gartner in 2023 noted that a four-day workweek is the “top new and innovative benefit that would attract them to a job.” Additionally, employees whose employers offer a four-day workweek reported a 14% increase in productivity and a 17% increase in well-being, according to Gartner.

Authentic started experimenting with flexible scheduling during the Covid-19 pandemic, when it let employees take off Friday afternoons. When its employees and clients responded positively, and productivity stayed constant, the organization decided to embrace the four-day workweek.

“Operationally we’re getting as much work done as we were when we were five days,” Nellis said. “We haven’t lost a single client, and I haven’t heard a single client complaint. So, all the work is still getting done, the only difference is like we’re clocking off on Fridays.”

Nellis attributes Authentic’s 2023 retention rate of 90% to the flexibility it has offered employees.

“I would think that we think we’re retaining our staff at a higher rate because they enjoy the benefit,” he said. “I think we’re seeing increased creativity and collaboration across the team because people are able to take that time.”

Quick-to-read HR news & insights

From recruiting and retention to company culture and the latest in HR tech, HR Brew delivers up-to-date industry news and tips to help HR pros stay nimble in today’s fast-changing business environment.